Unbelievable is one word that comes to mind with this tornado – not only in the death and destruction it caused, but also in the response and speed in which the clean-up has taken place. Within 6 days of the storm, most of the initial cleanup-work was completed in the Benton, Davidson, and Wilson County areas. Within another day or two, the initial phase of the work in Putnam County was accomplished. This does not mean that the everything is back to the way it was before. What it means is that most of the fallen trees have been cut up and the debris has been taken to the street. Electrical services have been restored to most of the homes that remain in the area. Now, the picking up of the piles of debris can begin in earnest.
I am so grateful for the response of our Disaster Relief volunteers and others from the area that responded and continue to look forward to responding in the future. To date, we have been able to track 10,644 hours that volunteers and others working with them have given to the talk of response to the tornado. That equates to over $225,000.00 that can go towards the counties part of the FEMA matching dollars. That does count the value that FEMA places on the equipment we use such as tool trailers, skid steers and the trucks used to pull them. I also know there are several teams that went out that did not send in their hours which adds more value.
With the response phase wrapping up and the recovery/rebuilding phase beginning, we are making plans to be involved in rehabilitation efforts on houses that were affected by the storm but did not have major structural issues where the home must be torn down and rebuilt. We will be looking for folks with no insurance or were underinsured to assist first. If there is a silver lining to the destruction a tornado brings is the fact that most homes are insured against the damage. One area that we are looking at assisting is in the North Nashville area. I have begun to talk with Rusty Sumrall and a group called Project Connect and others interested to develop a plan to assist in this area. As plans are made and an infrastructure is put in place, we will invite construction teams from DR and churches to participate in assisting these people.
There are several lessons to be learned from this response and we will be working on how to better respond to the way the world is now. Please remember one thing, when a disaster takes place in your town or county, you do NOT have to have my permission to respond! I expect you as leaders to gather your people and others as needed and start responding in your local county. Let me know, as you can, what is happening and what needs you have for further assistance. I do ask that you do record your work either in FormStack or through the Short-term Project form. We probably lost a lot of hours that could have helped the counties with their matching funds if we could track it. If you cannot do it in the moment, do it as soon as things settle down.
Thank you all for your work and time you give to serve the Lord in order to bring Help, Hope and Healing to those affected by disaster.
In Christ Serving Together,